Skip to main content
Go to accessibility options


    Yaka (Democratic Republic of Congo)
    Half-helmet Mask (mbala or kholuka)
    Wood, pigment, cloth, fiber
    Height: Center point to chin: 18 inches Width:Face: 6 inches

    These arresting creations are characteristic of the Northern Yaka, whose masks are used in connection with the circumcision and coming-of-age rites known as mukanda or n-khanda. These rituals strictly discipline adolescent males, bringing them into the various aspects of adult social behavior and responsibility. The various masks that appear during the initiation sequence guarantee the future fertility of the young males, and protect that fertility. It is this aspect of initiation focus that most frequently is alluded to in mbala masks, which are worn by the n'langala or camp leader. The exaggeratedly retroussé nose seen on this face is derived from the trunk of the elephant, which animal the Yaka admire for the way its trunk can reach into difficult places or root in the ground. As in many mbala masks, this example combines a painted carved wood face (which has a hidden handle below the chin to help the wearer steady and support it); a superstructure of woven fiber over a framework, also painted; and a large ruff of loose raffia.

    While the overall condition is good, the center upper pointed "cap" is loose, and some of the bracing cords are loose or missing. There is light overall pigment loss on the cloth upper part.

    Provenance: Nigel Wolff, Washington, D.C.
    H. Bruce Greene II and family, Naples, Florida

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2007
    7th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,394

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    This item cannot be shipped using standard methods. Please contact us for more information. Sales Tax information

    Important information concerning Sales Tax and Resale Certificates. Learn More

    Terms and Conditions  |  Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments |  Glossary of Terms

    Sold on Jun 7, 2007 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2022 May 6 American Art Signature® Auction .

    Learn about consigning with us

    The picture of each piece, the brief description, incoming bids, what paintings were coming up next in the queue and, of course, the auctioneer; all perfectly organized and presented! Your service was great.
    Ray Holland,
    Chester Gap, VA
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search